Colorful Gujarat

Ahmedabad – Dasada – Bhuj – Gondal – Gir – Diu – Bhavnagar – Mumbai

Gujarat, whose most famous son was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fondly called “Mahatama,” a seemingly frail little man with a will of iron and a vision that realized the independent Republic of India. In many ways he epitomized his home state whose long and sheltered coastline has, since time immemorial been dotted with ports that traded with contemporary cultures in goods as well as culture and philosophy. Even open to the winds of change, it has never been blown away by them, developing instead a rich mix of cultural heritage that gives it an identity all its own.

Gujarati woman (photo courtesy SITA).

This itinerary takes you to the excavated port of Lothal where, 4500 years ago, ships from Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia anchored regularly. In Ahmedabad there is a range of sights to explore: the beautiful mosque, shaking minarets and the textile museum that offers a fascinating view into India’s textile heritage. Away from architecture and the past, the tour includes a wildlife reserve in Gir, which is the lair of the extremely endangered Asiatic lion and is a small forest reserve that remains his last sanctuary. There are temples, forts, palaces and museums with hours of stories, legends and antiquities to explore at Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Gondal.

Trip highlights:

  1. Heritage night walk in the old town of Ahmedabad
  2. Visit the antique textile and utensil museum
  3. Meet with artisans practicing rare textile crafts
  4. Visit the Little Rann of Kutch, home to the rare wild ass
  5. Visit communities whose history dates back to the 7th century
  6. Visit the last habitat of the rare Asiatic Lion, Sasan Gir
  7. Visit the spectacular 4500 year old site of the Indus valley civilization
  8. Explore colorful local markets

Day 1: Arrive Mumbai – Ahmedabad
Arrive Mumbai and connect to your onward flight to Ahmedabad (1 hour). On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.

Ahmedabad, founded in the year 1411 AD, is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River and has been named after Sultan Ahmed Shah, who was primarily responsible for building it. Today, this city is known as the “Manchester of the East,” one of the highly industrialized cities in India and is also India’s textile city. Though the capital of Gujarat was shifted from Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar, it is still the second largest industrial city in western India. The old city of Ahmedabad is dotted with labyrinthine by lanes called “polls.” The exquisite carved wooden mansions and havelis are in no manner less than their stone counterparts in Rajasthan.

Rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: The House of Mangaldas Girdhardas (MG), Grand Deluxe room

Day 2: Ahmedabad
After breakfast, take a tour of the Calico Museum, which exhibits antique and modern textiles, including rare tapestries (closed on Wednesday and public holidays and entry subject to permission). The Calico Museum of Textiles at Ahmedabad is the premier textile museum of the country, and one of the most celebrated institutions of its kind in the world for its distinguished and comprehensive collection of textiles and artifacts. The Calico collection, along with those of Sarabhai Foundation’s collection of outstanding bronzes, Pichhwais, Jain art objects and Indian miniature paintings are housed at the Retreat complex of Sarabhai Foundation in the Shahibag area of the city. Both the Calico Museum and the Sarabhai Foundation have major collections and an extensive program of publications.

In the afternoon you will be taken on a city tour of Ahmedabad that will cover Gandhi Ashram, Sarkhej Roza, theKite Museum and the Shreyas Folk Art Museum.

Gandhi Ashram is on a quiet peaceful stretch of the Sabarmati River. Mahatma Gandhi set up a simple retreat in 1915. This was his Satyagrah Ashram and for many years and was the nerve center of India’s freedom movement. Sarkhej Roza is about 8 kilometers away from the city. It comprises one of the most elegant architectural complexes of Ahmedabad. Grouped around a great stepped tank is the tomb of the saint, Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh, the mosque, the tombs of Muhammad Shah Begada and his queen, the palace and pavilions.

Overnight: The House of Mangaldas Girdhardas (MG), Grand Deluxe room (B)

Day 3: Ahmedabad
Spend this morning with the workers of painted cloth, Mata–Ni–Pachedi, the Kalamkari painters of Gujarat. The temple hangings from Gujarat are locally known as the Mata-ni-Pachedi. The historical evidence of this craft goes back almost two hundred years. Some rural and nomadic people of Gujarat make these hangings for their rituals. The term Mata-ni-Pachedi came from the Gujarati words, Mata,’ goddess’ ni, ‘belongs to’, Pachedi,’ which literally means behind in Gujarati. In Gujarat, the narrative hangings of the epics of Mata or Devi or Shakti were executed by the nomadic community of Waghari and were used by the people of this community. The unique feature of these temple hangings was that instead of being hung behind an icon, four to five pieces of these hangings were used to form a shrine for the goddess.

In the afternoon visit the Jamma Masjid, and the Tomb of Sultan Ahmed Shah near Gandhi Market with its crowded shops full of textiles and spices, and the stepwell, Dada Hari. This will be followed by a visit to Visahala, the Utensils museum.

Late evening, we will take you on a guided night walk of the historic city of Ahmedabad, taking you through some of the most ancient parts of the city. You will walk on the narrow lanes, past old havelis and monuments, to arrive at the crowded food court at Manek Chowk. There is a small room above the gateway leading to Raja no Haziro. Here you will witness a tradition that dates back to 600 years of drummers signaling the close of city gates (between 10 to 11 PM)

Overnight: The House of Mangaldas Girdhardas (MG), Grand Deluxe room (B)

Day 4: Ahmedabad – Dasada
Depart very early to drive into the hinterland of rural Gujarat, visiting en route Rani ki Vav, Patan’s surviving double ikat weaving family, Modera’s temple ruins and Siddhapur’s amazing merchants’ streets. (approx. 2.5 hours plus stops).

Rani ki Vav was built during 11th and 12th centuries. It is the most magnificent and spectacular stepwell and the best example of such architecture for water wells.

Patan is the home of Patan Patola the ancient art of double ikat weaving. We shall try and meet the Master weavers from the Salvi Family, who are still carrying forward this magnificent art of double ikat weaving.

India has a rich and ancient heritage in fine textiles. (Double Ikat) Patola from the area of Patan is in the North Gujarat. Before World War II, Indonesia was a major buyer of patolas. Historically, the art of double Ikat Patola weaving dates back centuries. Paintings in the Ajanta caves resemble the tie-dye technique of patola. Legend indicates that sometime in the 12th century AD, King Kumarpal of the Solanki dynasty invited 700 families of patola weavers from Jalna (South Maharashtra) to settle down in Patan in North Gujarat. The Salvi family is one of them who has continued this traditional art and has preserved it even today. This is their heritage art from four generations. Essentially the design in a patola is based on traditional motifs called “Bhat.” Flowers, animals, birds and human figures form the basic designs.

Modhera is the Sun Temple. It is one of the finest examples of Indian temple architecture of its period. Built in 1026 AD, the temple is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya, and stands high on a plinth overlooking a deep stone-stepped tank. Every inch of the edifice, both inside and outside, is magnificently carved with gods and goddesses, birds, beasts and flowers. The inner sanctum that housed the presiding deity faces east and was so designed that at the solar equinox the first rays of the rising sun lit up the images of Surya. This temple bears some resemblance to the later and far better known Sun Temple of Konark that predates it by some 200 years.

Continue to Dasada.

Dasada is a perfect base for exploring the Rann of Kutch, the last refuge in India for the Asiatic Wild Ass, an elegant member of the horse family. In winter it is also home to migratory birds such as flamingos, Macqueen’s Bustard, pelicans and cranes.

On arrival you will be checked into Rann Riders.

Surrounded by wetlands, Rann Riders is an eco-friendly resort imaginatively designed using local materials to recreate the appearance of a village. Accommodations are in cottages, resembling the kooba houses of the Bajania community of Dasada and the bhunga houses of the Rabaris of Kutch, decorated with mirrors, mud-plaster work and embroideries.

Overnight: Rann Riders, Standard room (B, L, D)

Day 5: Dasada
Morning and evening wildlife and bird watching safari in the Little Rann of Kutch Wild Ass Sanctuary in search of endangered desert wildlife like the wild ass. Witness the sunset at a lake that attracts flamingos, pelicans, cranes and other attractive birds in large numbers.

Dasada and its nearby villages are inhabited by a number of interesting communities including pastoral tribes such as the Mirs, Rabaris, Bharwads, Jats and Kolis. In the evening, move around the village in a jeep and enjoy the culture of tribals like Bharwad and Rabari.

Overnight: Rann Riders, Standard room (B, L, D)

Day 6: Dasada – Bhuj
After breakfast, drive to Bhuj (7-8 hours), enroute visiting Bhujodi and Dhamadka to see block printings and shawl weaving. On arrival visit the District Collectors Office who will issue your permit for the surrounding villages (closed on weekends and public holidays).

Legendary heroism and romance lend enchantment to Kachchh, the land of great antiquity forming the northwestern part of Gujarat. The most important place in the area is the walled town of Bhuj, picturesquely placed between two streams. Kachchh is famous the world over for its sturdy horses and cows as also for wide variety of its handicrafts. Bandhini (tie-and-dyes) and hand-printed saris, embroidery and needle work, exquisite gold and silver ornaments known as Kutchi work, gilding and enameling are some of its traditional crafts. Nutcrackers, scissors and penknives are metal ware specialties of Kutch.

Overnight: Kutch Safari Lodge, Standard room (B)

Day 7: Bhuj
Today you will explore the Banni villages and visit villages like Nirona famous for Rogan Painting, village Dhordo for Muthwa embroidery and village Sumraser to visit the organization called Kala Raksha run by an American, Judy Freater. You will also visit Bhrindeyera village to see Meghwal embroidery.

Overnight: Kutch Safari Lodge, Standard room (B)

Day 8: Bhuj
Today, you will visit the house of Ali Mohamaed Isha who is a tie and die artisan and see his work.

In the afternoon visit Aina Mahal (Old Palace): This is a beautiful museum, built in the 18th century as the palace of Maharao Lakhpatji. It has a Hall of Mirrors with white marble walls covered with mirrors and gilded ornaments; the floor is lined with tiles with a platform above it surrounded by a series of fountains. The room also has a chandelier of Venetian glass. It is located in the old part of the city, in a small, fortified courtyard and houses some very rare idols.

Later, visit the local bazaar.

Overnight: Kutch Safari Lodge, Standard room (B)

Day 9: Bhuj – Gondal
In the morning drive to Gondol (approx. 5 hours).

Gondal is a princely town of considerable importance and affluence. On arrival visit the 1748 AD Naulakha Palacewhich houses the erstwhile ruling family’s private collection of beadwork, textiles, brassware, hand-painted toys and silver crafts. Also visit the center promoting weaving at Gondal, and other historic buildings. In Gondal you will stay at Orchard Palace that is decorated with textiles from the former Maharanis’ collections.

Overnight: Orchard Palace, Standard Palace (B)

Day 10: Gondal – Gir
Drive to the famous Gir National Park (approx. 2 hours) enroute visiting the historic town of Junagarh. At Junagarh, visit the Uparkot Fort, Buddhist Cave sites and 18th & 19th century royal mausoleum complex.

Later, continue to Gir.

Gir is the only home in India for the Asiatic Lion of which there are nearly 300 in the park. The Gir National Park lies in the Gujarat peninsula in southwestern India. The terrain is rugged with low hills and the vegetation is mixed deciduous, with stands of Teak, Acacia, Jamun, Tendu and Dhak trees, interspersed with large patches of grasslands. The trees on the hills are sparse and stunted.

On arrival you will be checked into the Lion Safari Camp.

The Lion Safari Camp is located in a private mango orchard overlooking the Hiran River. This eco-friendly camp has 21 ac luxury tents each with large well – furnished bedrooms and attached en-suite bathrooms. All the tents are beautifully furnished with natural materials and open out to an extended deck. This is an ideal place to sit and relax amongst nature.

Overnight: Lion Safari Camp, Deluxe Tent (B, L, D)

Day 11:Gir
In the morning and afternoon explore the famous Gir National Park.

Gir is the only place in the world outside Africa, where the Lion can be seen in its natural habitat. The last remaining Bastion of the Asiatic Lion, Gir is also home to one of the largest leopard populations in any park in India, making it an excellent place to see big cats of a different kind.

The Lion sanctuary project was initiated in 1972 to create a balance between the endangered lions and the indigenous Maldhari tribe. With over 800 guards patrolling the entire park, Gir has become one of the best-protected sanctuaries in India. No wonder that from 20 Lions at the turn of the century there are now over 300 lions at Gir. This makes your chances of sighting a lion very high.

Apart from spotting a colorful array of birds, Gir is also a great place to interact with local tribes. The main tribe is a nomadic pastoral community called Maldhari, who live in scattered settlements called ‘nesses’. Gir is also home to a Negroid community known as Siddis, who are African in origin but speak Gujarati. The park is open from mid October and a Lion Safari by jeep showcases the diverse habitat of Gir.

The forest is also rich in bird life and an estimated of 300 species are found inhabiting Gir National Park over the years. Many wildlife experts say that if Gir has not been a Lion sanctuary, it could have easily passed off as a protected area for the incredible diversity of birds that it harbors. The avifauna in here occupies the forest floors, small plants and shrubs and even the canopy of the trees.

Overnight: Lion Safari Camp, Deluxe Tent (B, L, D)

Day 12: Gir – Diu
In the morning drive to the beautiful Portuguese beach town of Diu (approximately 2 hours), enroute visit Somnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

In the afternoon visit Diu Fort, St.Paul Church and Diu Museum that has a collection of wooden carving, idols, shadow clocks & so many other items.

Overnight: Radhika Beach Resort, Standard room (B)

Day 13: Diu – Bhavnagar
In the morning drive to Bhavnagar (approximately 5 hours). On arrival, you will be checked into the Palace hotel.

The Nilambagh Palace in Bhavnagar was built in 1859 as a country house for the Maharaja of Bhavnagar and later became the royal residence. Set in spacious grounds which include a swimming pool and outdoor restaurant, there are 28 rooms many containing original features.

Afternoon, proceed for sightseeing tour of Bhavnagar beginning with the Gandhi Smriti Museum, a memorial with photographs and other articles associated with Gandhiji. Gangajaha in the midst of what was formerly a tank stands the temple of Gangadcvi with a chhatri or partition. Made of white marble, designed by Sir John Griffits it was built by Maharaja Takhtsinghji in memory of Maharani Majirajba in 1893 A.D. Proceed to Takhteshwar Temple in the middle of city, with a panoramic city view. The temple and whole compound is made of shining white marble. See theLock Gate, the first of its kind in Gujarat. The seawater here is impounded by the lock gates to keep ships afloat during low tide (can only be seen with special permission).

Overnight: Nilambagh Palace, Standard room (B)

Day 14: Bhavnagar – Ahmedabad – Mumbai
Drive to Ahmedabad airport (approximately 7 hours) in time to board the flight for Mumbai. En route visit Lothal, a perfect place to get an insight of the Indus Valley civilization. The most dominating site at Lothal is the massive dockyard perhaps the greatest work of maritime architecture in India. Lothal was also famous for its arterial streets, microbes of gold, ivory and coppersmiths’ workshops, potteries and underground sanitary drainage.

Arrive Ahmedabad and connect to your onward flight to Mumbai (1 hour). You will be met and transferred to the hotel.

Overnight: Trident Nariman Point, Superior room (B)

Day 15: Mumbai
In the morning, take an excursion to Elephanta Island, which is an hour away from Mumbai by motor launch. The cave temples here were excavated between the 5th and 8th centuries AD and are famous for their magnificently sculpted panels.

The best known is the one that depicts the Maheshmurti, a three – headed image of Lord Shiva, which signifies the creator, preserver and destroyer of this universe as per Hindu mythology. The Portuguese named this island after a large stone elephant that was found near the landing. The elephant now stands at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the mainland.

In the afternoon visit the Prince of Wales Museum, drive past Marine Drive, Mumbai’s most popular seaside promenade, and see the Kamla Nehru Park and Hanging Gardens on the slopes of the Malabar hills, offering a nice view of the marine lines and the Chowpatty beach. Visit Mani Bhawan Jain temple where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay, and the Dhobi Ghat, the outdoor laundry. Also, drive past the Flora Fountain, the colorful Crawford Market andVictoria Terminus train station.

A room is reserved until time for the late evening transfer to the International airport to board the flight for your onward destination.

Overnight: Trident Nariman Point, Superior room (B)

Tour Quote

Valid: October 15, 2013 – March 31, 2014

From $3,665/person with 2 people traveling together

From $6,435 for one person traveling

Valid: October 15, 2014 – March 31, 2015

From $4,085/person with 2 people traveling together

From $7,170 for one person traveling

The economy class airfare for travel Mumbai-Ahmedabad – Mumbai: $240/person

This is included in the above quotes. (Subject to change until booked)

TERMS & CONDITION

Quote Includes:

  • Accommodation for a total of 15 nights in twin/ double share basis as per the hotels mentioned above or similar
  • Meals
    • Buffet breakfast at all places
    • All meals (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) at Dasada and Gir
  • Airport transfers, sightseeing and surface transportation as per the itinerary mentioned in a Toyota Innova.
  • Services of a local English speaking guide for the site visits in Mumbai and Ahmedabad and accompanying English speaking guide for rest of the tour but not staying in the same hotels.
  • 2 Park Safaris in Dasada
  • 3 Park Safaris in Gir
  • Elephanta excursion in Mumbai on common ferry
  • Entrance fees at all monuments for one visit only
  • 500 ml packaged drinking water in the car throughout the tour
  • All currently applicable taxes, tolls, parking fees and service tax

Quote does not Include:

  • International airfare, Airport Tax, Passport and Visa fees for India
  • Meals other than specified above
  • Any Insurance
  • All personal expenses such as gratuities, meals, medical expenses, laundry, drinks, telephone and fax services, video or camera fee at the monuments and all other services not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary

How do we make the clients feel special:

  • On arrival: Mouli on arrival at airport
  • A dedicated point contact for all travel needs
  • Comprehensive ground support with 24 hours access during the tour to ensure that any issues are managed and addressed immediately.
  • Meet and greet service at the airport
  • Pre check-in facility at hotels (subject to receiving the complete passport information in advance)

Special notes:

  • Economy class airfare is based on current availability and subject to change.
  • Check-in time is 1400 hrs & check-out time is 1200 NOON
  • Geringer Global Travel reserves the right to modify itineraries and/or substitute hotels of a reasonably similar quality, when available, should circumstances beyond our control deem it necessary
from/per person $7170

Pricing Details

Valid: April 1, 2016 – September 30, 2016
From $3,750/person with 2 people traveling together
From $6,405 for one person traveling

Valid: October 15, 2014 – March 31, 2015
From $4,085/person with 2 people traveling together
From $7,170 for one person traveling

The economy class airfare for travel from Mumbai-Ahmedabad – Mumbai: $200/person
This is included in the above quotes. (Subject to change until booked)

15 Days
15 Nights

All Geringer Global tours can be personalized for you. Inquire to request a quote for this itinerary.